2019 COPE/SEPB Convention – Sunday recap
June 9, 2019
There was no shortage of work to be done and important business left to be attended to on the third and final day of the 6th triennial COPE/SEPB Convention.
Canadian Labour Congress Presentation on Islamophobia
The remaining half-day of Convention kicked off with a presentation on Islamophobia by Modjeh Cox, the National Director of Anti-Racism and Human Rights at the Canadian Labour Congress, and Danielle Dubuc, the CLC Director for Women of Colour.
Cox and Dubuc spoke on how the issues of hate, xenophobia, Islamophobia, and systemic racism have been at the forefront of the labour movement since its inception and is something that the labour movement has taken on for decades.
They pointed to events like the murder-suicide of the Walki family facing deportation back to Tanzania, Alan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy found washed ashore, the Islamic Cultural Centre shooting in Quebec City in 2017, and Amal, the Syrian refugee who died of bullying in Calgary, as reasons why we need to address immigration reform.
They spoke on the CLC’s Anti-Islamophobia Initiative, a ground-breaking project which places Canada’s unions at the forefront and uses their collective expertise to challenge and interrupt Islamophobia as well as xenophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, and racism. They mentioned how Islamophobia is one of the primary vehicles used by the far-right to broaden the reach of their movement, and further radicalize and uphold white supremacy, and how now is a critical time for Canadas unions to change the narrative.
The objectives of the Anti-Islamophobia Initiatives are to:
- Place the CLC on the map as a recognized voice opposing Islamophobia in Canada;
- Increase affiliate and member awareness and engagement around Islamophobia in the workplace;
- Hold a well-attended public forum and education session on Islamophobia in the workplace;
- Facilitate continued efforts to dismantle Islamophobia.
They lauded COPE/SEPB was among the first few affiliates to take on the “Islamophobia at Work” as an educational workshop and described how future parts of this initiatives will address how to make workplaces safer for Muslims and, in turn, for all workers.
They talked about some of the vicious attacks that the CLC, and them personally, have received since starting the project, and that has included some within the labour circle as well which indicates the need to work even harder to reach those who don’t have a grasp on Islamophobia.
Among their research highlights show:
- Despite being among the most educated and skilled in the country, 46% of Muslim immigrants earn less than $20,000 in annual income.
- 35% of reports of discrimination experienced by Muslims is due to religion and happen in the workplace.
- A December 2018 public opinion survey found that no fewer than one in four respondents fell Canada would be better off with no Muslims, and more than one in five feel the country would be better off if it was more white.
The CLC states that actions to address and interrupt Islamophobia must be grounded in pubic education, evidence, coalition building and policy development
The CLC’s report on Islamophobia includes recommend:
- To Unions: Training and tools, and lobby government
- To Employers: Name-blind recruiting, and duty to accommodate
- To government: Repeal Bill -59 and Bill S-7, and Reinstate Canadas Action Plan Against Racism (CAPAR)
More information can be found on the Canadian Labour Congress website.
Solidarity with MoveUP members on the Westminster Savings Credit Union picket line
As the announcement was made for delegates to donate to MoveUP members on the picket line at Westminster Savings Credit Unions Shaughnessy Station branch in Port Coquitlam fighting to save the pension plan for the next generation of workers, representatives from COPE/SEPB locals across the country went up to the microphone to announce their respective pledges. With SEPB Quebec pledging to match the total of all collected from the individual Local pledges, the total came out to $12,576.
- A resolution that COPE/SEPB opposes the introduction of any law that attacks the right to employment (Quebec Bill 21 on secularism) was CARRIED.
- A resolution on the creation of the position of Chair is created for the Canadian Equity Council was CARRIED. (A motion to have this resolution referred back to the Committee was defeated).
- A resolution to add an additional seat to the National Executive Board reserved for a young worker member of COPE/SEPB was NOT CARRIED.
- A resolution to mandate the National Legal Counsel to review the text of the National Constitution as to make it gender neutral was CARRIED.
- A resolution to an article in the Constitution related to the per capita tax collected by the local union, and adjusted for inflation, was CARRIED.
- A resolution to repeal Article 14 of the National Union’s Constitution and to remove any reference to the National Conference (Mid-Term) was CARRIED.
- Resolutions on further Constitution changes were discussed. Refer to the COPE/SEPB website for more on the Constitution.
- David Black (Region 4 – MoveUP) was acclaimed as National President.
- Kateri Lefebvre (Region 1) was acclaimed as National Secretary-Treasurer.
- Loïc Breton was acclaimed as Vice-President of Region 1.
- Casey Oraa was acclaimed as Vice-President of Region 2.
- Kim Wilson was acclaimed as Vice-President of Region 3.
- Annette Toth was acclaimed as Vice-President of Region 4.
- Patty Clancy was acclaimed as Vice President, Seat Reserved for Women.
- The Canadian Equity Council delivered their report to the delegates at Convention, and spoke on the key issues they are dealing with including their work around proposing resolutions for the support of sex workers which were ultimately passed earlier this weekend. They also talked about the challenges they faced in their first term, and proposed structural changes that would allow them to operate more effectively.
- The Vice-President’s Report for tor the Seat Reserved for Women was delivered. Among the issues covered included wage discrimination, the lack of access to affordable childcare, access to abortion, and the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls Report and 231 Calls To Justice.
See you in B.C.
The 7th triennial COPE/SEPB Convention will be hosted by Region 4 (MoveUP) in British Columbia in 2022.